Days Gone By: First Floor Club was the only place for late-night fun for decades in Ipswich
- Credit: Ian McGrath
David Kindred looks at the First Floor Club, flooding in Ipswich and The Arlington Ballroom with Olga Wilmot.
For decades from the mid 1960s the First Floor Club was the only late night venue in the centre of Ipswich.
Local businessman Ken Bean took over the Tacket Street site in 1966. Queues would form on the stairway leading to the club with customers keen to get in.
In the early years there was a casino and many well known show business names appeared there. The club was open seven days a week.
When Ken Bean sold the club it became Fire and Ice, which ran until 2010, when it closed. Comedians like Bob Monkhouse, Bernard Manning and Ronnie Corbett appeared. Magician Paul Daniels and Warren Mitchell was there in character as Alf Garnett.
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Many couples met (and parted!) at “The Floor”. Sports clubs held their awards nights and celebrations. Hen, stag parties and gentleman’s evenings were a regular feature.
In today’s Days Gone By I feature just a few of the thousands of fun times at the First Floor Club. Some of the events would now be deemed to be “out of order”.
Were you a regular there? Do you have memories of the First Floor Club you would like to share with readers? Send an e-mail here.
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Flooding in areas of Ipswich, close to the River, featured recently with a photograph of police officers on duty at Ipswich Dock. Former Ipswich policeman Bob Lawrence has added names to the picture along with memories.
Bob Lawrence, PC 185 Ipswich Borough Police, said: “The Sgt is Les Barber and from the left is Dick Young, Mick Miles, the third is unknown to me. Forth is probably Bob Gosden. On the left at the van is, I think, Brian Mills. Flooding in this area was very common then. Around the same time, in the early hours, I remember as a constable being told by an Inspector to knock up the people living in the pub at the corner of Bridge Street and Greyfriars Road.
“The flood water was at the time rapidly spreading from Stoke Bridge along Bridge Street towards the pub. After several minutes banging on the doors of the pub, a window opened upstairs and a lady leaned out and asked (not in a nice way) what the hell I wanted, I told her the flood water was rapidly coming up Bridge Street.
“I was informed by the lady that they had lived there for 25 years and the water always comes up Bridge Street and stops before it reaches the pub. She then suggested I went away and left them alone (but not in those words).”
The Arlington Ballroom, Ipswich, and its principal dance instructor Olga Wilmot, featured in Days Gone By recently.
Tony Barnard, emailed: “After my first wife died in childbirth my mother asked Olga to teach me to dance which she did.”
Pauline Looms, said: “My husband and I had lessons at the Arlington ballroom with Olga Wilmot and her sister Pauline before 1955. When we got married we could no longer afford to have that luxury. We enjoyed our time there immensely. Unfortunately my husband died in January, but we had many happy hours at the Arlington.”
Margaret Gooderham, wrote: “What a “blast from the past”. I went to the school of dancing at the Arlington Ballroom, Museum Street, Ipswich, many moons ago now. I attained my bronze, silver and gold medals and also my first bar from the International Dancing Masters Association. Olga Wilmot was a strict but fair teacher and I really did enjoy my lessons. I gave up dancing when I got married in the early 1960s. Todays idea of some dancing is so different from what I remember.”
The picture below shows a celebration held at the First Floor Club after the first season that Speedway returned to Foxhall Stadium in 1969.
Riders, their partners and club officials gathered for this photograph.
Witches riders in the picture include: John Louis, Ernie Baker, Ted Spittles, Ron Bagley, Pete Bailey and John Harrhy.